Is it possible to drown an ant?
Can ants swim or dive? - Amazing facts
Ants are known for their unusual ability to carry many times their body weight and to work together in a colony in amazing ways.
But can ants survive in water or even swim and dive?
Can ants swim?
Ants are land insects and generally do not have the ability to move in a controlled manner on water. Due to their small size, however, they are regularly able to use the surface tension of the water in order not to drown. Controlled locomotion usually does not take place.
Most genera continue their movements from land to water. These are more reminiscent of uncontrolled kicking and only produce limited locomotion. This always only applies to reaching land and is only used in emergencies.
This behavior is also very different from the respective genus and so there are a large number of specimens, especially with tropical tree ants, that escape from the water to the shore can. This ability shows the high degree of adaptation of the insects, because falling into water is a permanent danger, especially in tropical forests.
In addition, there are individual genera (such as the fire ant) which use a special trick in the event of floods and convert the people as a whole into a raft in order to leave the flooded building and allow the water to drift back onto land.
How do ants breathe?
Survival underwater is only possible if the ant's metabolism can continue for the time being. As with all insects, breathing is the essential part. So there has to be enough oxygen to maintain the body's functions.
However, ants have no gills and cannot gain new oxygen in the water. So you have to get by with the resources available in the body.
Ants do not actively breathe through their lungs and respiratory system. The small insects have a system of tubes (trachea) with several openings (stigmas) through which the oxygen enters the body. The vital gas reaches the organs directly through these channels. So there is a natural, inactive exchange.
Therefore, ants cannot actively “hold their breath”.
If an ant is submerged, however, there is still air inside its body. However, due to the small size of the spiracles and the surface tension of the water, no liquid penetrates the ant from outside. To do this, the existing air would first have to be pushed out, which is also prevented by the small surfaces.
Can ants dive?
Ants can survive underwater for a period of time as well use the oxygen that is in your body. The concentration d increasesit Carbon dioxides over time and eventually numb the ant. If the concentration reaches a critical level, the ant dies under water. She suffocates and does not drown.
There are some genera of ants that are not afraid of water and can cross it continuously on the ground. Their habitus is the same as on land and the water has no influence on their movement.
However, the lack of awareness of the dangers in these specimens also regularly leads to death because the “diving time” is exceeded.
An exception is the genus Camponotus schmitzi, which has its habitat on an insect-catching plant. There, microorganisms fall into a liquid-filled chalice and die there. The diving ant goes into this goblet and fishes the delicacy out of the water.
However, these "diving" ants are the exception. Most species recognize the water as a natural obstacle and avoid entering the potential danger area.
That is why water hazards are often used as visually appealing barriers in ants keeping. But even here there are regular individual victims who have gone into the water.
How long do ants survive underwater?
The survival time depends strongly on the metabolism and behavior of the respective ant. In addition, physique plays a crucial role as it determines the volume of oxygen that the ants carry around with them. The overall time can vary greatlyand goes from a few minutes to 14 days (with some forest ants).
The behavior of the ants is strongly dependent on the species. While some species do not change their behavior at all, other specimens are immediately immobile and stop where they fell into the water.
In addition, an ant thought to be dead may suddenly come back to life after being taken out of the water. This is not a miracle cure but an awakening from the carbon dioxide rigidity. The ant was unconscious and is now becoming agile again.
Can you drown ants?
Because of breathing it is possible to drown ants. If the ants stay underwater for too long, they lack the oxygen to survive and they die.
Incidentally, there are no artificial air bubbles that form around the ant and enable it to survive longer. Although individual small bubbles can form, these do not allow adequate gas exchange.
Can you flood ant nests?
Ant nests are complex constructs that have natural rain and water protection and cannot simply be flooded. Sensitive areas are located in protected cavities into which water can hardly penetrate.
This applies in particular to earth nests in which the water is soaked but does not flow through it in abundance. Even after long and intense rain showers, there is usually no water in these areas.
Short-term soaking is also not a problem, as the ants can survive this time and the water is well drained through the pipe system.
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